BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills and Sabres owner Terry Pegula wasted no time responding to a lawsuit filed by sports journalist Jim Trotter, which alleges Pegula made racist remarks about Black football players.
"The statement attributed to me in Mr. Trotter's complaint is absolutely false," Pegula tweeted. "I am horrified that anyone would connect me to an allegation of this kind."
Trotter's lawsuit filed against the National Football League (NFL) and NFL Media in The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York claims Pegula once responded to player protests against racial injustice by saying, "If the Black players don't like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is."
Pegula's tweet concludes by saying, "Racism has no place in our society, and I am personally disgusted that my name is associated with this complaint."
Trotter's lawsuit claims the NFL failed to renew his contract because "he challenged Commissioner Roger Goodell and others regarding the NFL's record of race discrimination and lack of diversity."
Trotter claims he complained and shared his concerns with the NFL about Pegula's alleged remark. The NFL has not yet responded to the lawsuit. But Trotter says the NFL refused to address long-standing systemic and institutional discrimination "within coaching ranks within the NFL league office and within the NFL Media newsroom."
Trotter's lawyers issued a press release in which Trotter stated, “I hope this lawsuit leads to real change across the league and in the newsroom. It is on the backs of a majority black player population that owners have made billions, and those players deserve to have someone who shares their cultural and life experiences at the table when decisions are being made about how they are being covered.”
2 On Your Side reached out to Trotter's lawyers, Douglas Wigdor and David Gottlieb, for an interview. They declined and referred reporters to the firm's press release, which said, "The NFL should be ashamed of the racial animus openly expressed by team owners and a complete lack of action by the league after being put on notice."
The lawsuit says Trotter wants to force the NFL to "remedy and change its discriminatory and retaliatory practices and comply with the law." He is asking for a court-ordered monitor to review the NFL's policies and to implement changes with respect to the hiring and advancement of Black people throughout all levels of the NFL.
2 On Your Side asked Buffalo Bills' head coach Sean McDermott about the allegations. He said, "We ya know put out an internal thing yesterday here with the leadership group, and in the six years, six years, going on seven years, I've known Terry Pegula, that is not his character and that's not the man I know."